cabomba aquatic plant

Cabomba Plant – Cabomba Aquatic Plant Care

What you need to know about including a Cabomba plant in your goldfish tank.

Are you looking for a plant to put in your goldfish tank that has a slight twist of whimsy, dimensional effect, and a velvety brush-like appearance?

You have all of this packaged into a little plant called a Cabomba.

“Should I put a Cabomba in my goldfish tank?”

Yes. Your goldfish will LOVE LOVE LOVE this plant…

wait until we tell you why!

We are going to take a close look at this soft-looking green beauty. So, we are going to give you “the facts, Jack” to help you decide! Let’s jump in

Cabomba caroliniana

Fast Facts About the Cabomba Aquatic Plant

  • Scientific Name: Cabomba caroliniana
  • There are four Cabomba species, so pay particular attention when purchasing to get the caroliniana species.
  • Fast-growing
  • Grows up to 20”
  • Can be planted in substrate or free-floating
  • Fairly easy to care for
  • Safe to have with goldfish.
Cabomba caroliniana plants within the U.S. are mainly cultivated in Florida and shipped to various retailers and customers.

So, what exactly is a Cabomba caroliniana plant?

Cabomba Caroliniana - 4+ Stems | Freshwater Aquatic Plant

Many fish hobbyists (and aquatic plant retailers and websites) use the term “Cabomba” loosely.

“Cabomba” can refer to any four different species of plants. To better understand what species fall under “Cabomba,” let’s take a look at its taxonomy.

Family: Cabombaceae

Genus: Cabomba Aubl.
  • Species: Cabomba caroliniana

  • Species: Cabomba furcata

  • Species: Cabomba haynesii

  • Species: Cabomba palaeformis

So, now you can understand when someone refers to a “Cabomba” plant, it could be a caroliniana, furcata, haynesii, or a palaeformis species.

Cabomba caroliniana is a plant that grows submerged in water.

In its native habitat, it thrives planted in the muddy bottoms of bodies of fresh water. It LOVES a stagnated environment. 

Fish hobbyists use this plant in fish tanks because its delicate appearance and color greatly enhance a planted tank.

The Cabomba caroliniana is an invasive plant species.

It has a PROFOUND IMPACT on sources of water around the world.

 It is banned in 11 U.S. states!

This subtle, soft plant may have an angelic appearance, but those outside of aquatic hobbies, contend with this plant with fury.

Cabomba caroliniana can quickly overtake freshwater sources, including lakes, ponds, water reservoirs, canals, etc.

It becomes so dense that it clogs sources that deliver drinking water.

If you live in any of the following states, you won’t be able to get your hands on a Cabomba caroliniana because they are banned.

The Federal Plant Protection Act of 2000 identified noxious weeds (plants.)

State-level regulations went further with some states banning Cabomba caroliniana due to the hazards and dangers of this plant impeding water resources.

  • California

  • Connecticut

  • Idaho

  • Massachusetts

  • Maine

  • Michigan

  • New Hampshire

  • Vermont

  • Washington

  • Wisconsin

It looks a lot like a Parrot’s Feather plant!

When you first glance at a Cabomba caroliniana, it looks like the Parrot’s Feather plant that is used in planted tanks.

Just so you don’t confuse the two when looking at them, here are some differentiations to notice.

Cabomba caroliniana

Cabomba Caroliniana - 4+ Stems | Freshwater Aquatic Plant

Fan-shaped leaves oppositely arranged on stalks

Parrot’s Feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum)


Leaves are shaped like a bird feather, which narrows near the tips and is cluster-arranged on stems.

Cabomba vs parrot feather plant

Attributes of Cabomba caroliniana

  • Size: up to 20”

  • Growth Rate: moderate-fast

  • Uses: aquatically planted tanks

  • Ease of Care: Easy

  • Tank Size Requirement: minimum of 10 gallons

  • Leaves

    • Fan-shaped

    • Divided very finely giving a feathery and fan-like appearance

    • Color: yellow/green

  • Flowers

    • Small white with slightly pink colored tips

    • Yellow center

    • 6 petals 

    • Solitary (above water)

    • Blooms summer/fall

Where can I purchase a cabomba plant?

Beware there are retailers out there that will sell you something that resembles a plant or stems under the name Cabomba or Cabomba caroliniana.

You may find that you receive a different species of Cabomba other than a caroliniana.

Here are some tips for shopping for this plant, as well as a few recommended retailers that specialize in planted tanks and this particular plant.

Do your research BEFORE buying.

What should I look for when searching/shopping for a Cabomba caroliniana?

We can’t stress enough how important it is to purchase the very best in plants for your tank.

Anytime you place something in your goldfish’s tank, you are exposing them to potential diseases and chemicals that may be present in the plant.

  • Pet-store chains are not necessarily the ideal place to purchase from. Their plants come from a third-party wholesaler, which can be outside of the U.S. 

  • The best places to purchase tank plants are from hobby aquatic plant growers. Those include a small business that is typically owned and operated by someone that has a passion for tank plants.

  • There are reputable retailers on Amazon and eBay. Be sure to check out the reviews carefully.

Many live aquatic plant growers won’t ship plants out during the colder months.

Some may ship, providing you purchase an additional heat pack that they include in the shipping box to protect the plant.

What are some reputable growers to purchase this plant from?

We have a few recommendations of reputable growers that we have chosen based on expertise and reviews.

Please note that we do not in any way represent or endorse our recommendations, nor are we affiliated with these growers.

Cabomba Caroliniana - 4+ Stems | Freshwater Aquatic Plant
  • nts will suffer due to extreme temperatures. During winter, do not order live plants when temperatures are expected to go below 20F at the lowest point during the day. During summer, avoid ordering plants when temperatures are above 100F.
  • Create a natural habitat in your aquarium for your fish and invertebrates. Live aquarium plant specie for any freshwater aquarium or pond
  • Make your fish tank look natural and beautiful
  • Provide natural resting and hiding places for your smaller fish and invertebrates
  • Perfect for 5+ gallons aquariums

Last update on 2024-06-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

How do I plant a Cabomba plant once it arrives?

Things you will need:

  • Scissors 

  • 2 buckets filled with water

  • Trash can/bag

As excited as you may be to get your new plant into your goldfish tank, back up and put the breaks on!

You have to inspect, prepare, and clean your new Cabomba caroliniana.

cabomba aquatic plant care

The last thing you want is for parasites, pests, etc. to piggyback on the plant on into your tank.

When your new plant arrives…

  1. Unpackage the plant carefully.

  2. Remove rubber bands around the stem. Be careful not to damage/snap the stems.

  3. Place the plant in bucket 1 (filled with water.)

  4. Swoosh plants around to loosen any particles of decaying plant matter, snails, etc.

  5. Lift the plant out of the water and lay on a tray. This is where you need to carefully inspect the plant for hitchhikers or dead matter. Trim away dead parts of the plant and place it into the garbage can/bag.

  6. Place the inspected plant into bucket 2 (filled with water.)

  7. At this point, you have two options:

    1. You can use bleach or a salt solution to disinfect; however, those chemicals will transfer to your tank and on to your goldfish.

    2. You can use a natural alternative (water and a keen eye) with a good rinse in bucket 2. Some fish owners take this a step further and quarantine* the plant in a hospital tank for 2 weeks before planting in the goldfish tank.

This is why it’s so important to purchase your plant from a reputable grower.

They take steps to ensure their plants are free from disease and pests.

Planting your new plant in the goldfish tank.

Things you will need:

  • Nutrient-dense substrate: Aqua Sand is the best substrate on the market for planted tanks.

  • Light 

Cabomba caroliniana can be planted in substrate OR floated!

You have FINALLY arrived at the point where you can get that plant into your goldfish tank! 

  1. Having a hospital tank is extremely beneficial for planting a tank. You have a place to keep your goldfish while you plant your tank. If you don’t have a hospital tank, you can still add plants with goldfish in the tank. Remember that you will need to use the minimum amount of time to accomplish this because of the stress it causes your goldfish.

  2. Add at least 1” of substrate and smooth out at the bottom of your tank. 

  3. You can either plant the Cabomba caroliniana in the substrate at the bottom of your tank (this is great for spawning and for fry to hide in), OR you can just float the plant. 

  4. Your plant will begin to root in about a week.

Is it difficult to care and maintain a Cabomba plant?

    • Water temperature: 65-76 degrees (F)

    • pH parameters: 5.5-6.8

    • Pruning: as necessary

    • Lighting: fluorescent 0.4-.05 watts per liter of water, 12 hours on, 12 hours off

Cabomba caroliniana grows fast, and it’s essential to keep it pruned back. It can easily overtake a tank quickly! 

Final Thoughts...

So, NOW we close with why your goldfish LOVES Cabomba caroliniana

This plant is one of the most delectable ones goldfish prefer! They will feast on this plant.

If you want to spoil your goldfish with a fabulous hideout that also serves as a snack, this one’s it!

The downside to adding this plant to your goldfish tank is the fact that your goldfish will destroy it.

However, if you have a bucket or tank you have reserved off to the side, you can continue to grow your own and add it to your goldfish tank as needed.